Definition of cist in English:


(Scottish, South African kist)


  • 1Archaeology
    An ancient coffin or burial chamber made from stone or a hollowed tree.

    • ‘Some bodies were laid out straight, some crouched; some in stone cists, others in hollows in the rubble.’
    • ‘Excavations revealed a sarsen stone cist containing a cremation burial accompanied by a bronze awl and a jet pendant.’
    • ‘He pointed at long flat slabs resting on stone kists.’
    • ‘They were located at one end of a stone burial cist, which was covered with a cairn.’
    • ‘The cremation graves at Vronda all have multiple burials within the same cist grave.’
    coffin, box
    View synonyms
  • 2A box used in ancient Greece for sacred utensils.


Early 19th century: from Latin cista, from Greek kistē ‘box’; sense 1 via Welsh.